December 31, 2008


This time last year we were watching the London fireworks from our bedroom window having heard Big Ben chime in the new year (I was sick then, too, there may be a theme here). I had handed in my notice and had three weeks left at work. We didn’t know where we would be living, except that it would probably be somewhere in this corner of Scotland, if we could find somewhere decent to rent. It’s been eight months since we moved up here – too soon to say if this is just a blip in our lives or the start of a whole new direction. So far, it’s been fun, it’s been beautiful, it’s been cold and it’s been quiet, sometimes too quiet. No real surprises there.

By the time you read this, we’ll be welcoming the new year with a glass of whisky in front of the fire. If we hear Big Ben it will be over the airwaves and the only fireworks will be if I inadvertently put a piece of unseasoned pine onto the grate. We’ve never been big on New Year’s Eve celebrations so we won’t miss all the London hoopla, although we will miss our London friends.

Who knows what 2009 will bring. I know what I’ll be hoping for as I stare into the fire, drawing castles in the air. I hope you have a peaceful or a wild new year, whichever you prefer. And I wish you all also a peaceful and prosperous 2009, assuming that such a thing is possible in these credit crunchy times.


December 30, 2008

So it turns out there is a downside to not spending eight hours a day, five days a week packed into a closed humid office with a load of germ-laden people, coupled with two hours or so a day packed into a closed humid train with a different load of germ-laden people, fun as it was at the time.

It means that, come the Christmas break, your immune system is as naive and innocent as that of some isolated Amazonian tribe. Introducing four small children to such a system – lovely as they are – is akin to conquistadors turning up with cholera-laden blankets: not a good idea. I’m now on either my second bout of two different Norovirus strains, or an unpleasant extension of the first. But fortunately for all concerned we’ve retreated back into our remote fastness where, if nothing else, the cold will see to the germs either directly or by putting me out of my misery first. At the moment, I’m not too bothered which…

But even that may not be certain, for – in one piece of Christmas good news – we arrived back home to find that in our absence our landlord had insulated our loft. The fact that, prior to this, there was no loft insulation at all – unless you count a century’s accumulation of dust – may explain why we’ve been feeling the chill.


December 29, 2008

So it’s the run up to Christmas and I’m walking along with Babymother and the babeling, looking for a place to cross to the road to get to the playground in Duns.

Me: Gosh, this is a busy road. (hey, there had been at least two cars just while we were waiting to cross, AND they were going pretty fast too)

Babymother: *withering look* No it’s not.

She’s been patronising me about that one ever since. Londoners, eh?

Don’t Try this at Home

December 27, 2008

How to survive the Christmas period without putting on an ounce of weight:

Step 1: In the run up to Christmas accept all and any festive snacks, drinks, goodies etc. on offer.

Step 2: On the day itself have a full helping of turkey, ham, stuffing, chipolatas, gravy, plus of course wine, followed up by a couple of helpings of Christmas pud and brandy butter. Don’t bother about the sprouts.

Step 3: On Boxing day, contract Norovirus

Christmas with Bloggers

December 24, 2008

christmas_birdThere will be a short festive hiatus as I am here with babymother & co. I hope you all have a very merry Christmas, or not, as the mood takes you.

All I want for Christmas

December 22, 2008

Regular readers of this blog – and its predecessor – will know that I’ve been talking about getting a new bike for ages now. People who know me will not be surprised that so far, other than looking at a lot of pictures of bikes (mostly underneath chic Copenhageners), I have done nothing about it. The problem is, if I’m going to spend several hundred quid on a new bike, it doesn’t just have to be OK, or better than the old one, I have to love it. And all the bikes I see in shops, however expensive are just … OK. They’ve probably got all sorts of fancy alloys and any number of complicated gear things, and be full of all the latest bike technology but I look at them and think … meh.

The problem is, they’re sort of fat looking. Just as the great god of trousers has decreed that women may have waists, but no hips or hips but not waists, and the great god of car manufacturing has decreed that all cars built after 1985 have to have a rear end like a middle-aged banker in cords, the great god of bicycle design has laid down that all bikes which aren’t mountain bikes have to have fat looking tubes. No doubt there are sound design reasons for this and if you tell me what they are I will probably stick my fingers in my ears and start humming, but it means it just doesn’t look like a proper nice-looking bicycle to me. And the ones that do look like a proper bicycle (i.e. the picture in my head that I have when I think of a bicycle) either cost about a million pounds or are fixies (which may be well trendy and all, but not much good where there are hills) or have three gears and weigh a ton. Would it be sacrilege to put some gears and brakes onto a fixie just because I like the stripped down frame? Probably…

So I keep on looking, and meanwhile I keep on tying the mudguards back onto my bike with cable ties and hoping the rust on the forks is superficial and so far, it’s done me fine. And then, of course, I find the absolute perfect bike, and it doesn’t even come in my size.

Thanks to BikingInLA for the link…

The Darkest Hour

December 21, 2008

Today, at 12:04 precisely, is the winter solstice, so today is the shortest day. Not only that, but the other half has reported a ‘strange blue patch’ in the sky and seeing ‘some sort of a light’. It’s probably a hallucination, but some people believe this is the legendary celestial body ‘the sun’.

From here on in, things can only get – well, brighter.

Until the 21st June, that is.

(more than you ever really needed to know about solstices here)